It is also the only choice of contraception available to a man, with the exception of always wearing a condom. In some countries, vasectomies are common, although they are losing popularity. This is the case in the United States, Australia, and even South Korea, where more than one in ten women rely on their partner’s vasectomy to avoid having children.
Authorized in France since 2001
In France, the situation is very different. Since their authorization in 2001, vasectomies have, for years, been carried out in tiny numbers. But the situation is starting to change. According to a study published Monday by health insurance and the National Medicines Safety Agency (ANSM), more and more French men are choosing sterilization.
“The number of vasectomies has increased every year since 2010, going from 1,940 vasectomies in 2010 to 30,288 in 2022, a fifteen-fold increase,” summarize the authors of the study, supervised by epidemiologist Mahmoud Zureik. Now, more men than women choose some form of sterilization. The authors of the study see this in part as a consequence of the affair of Essure implants, commonly used as a method of female sterilization before being withdrawn from the market at the end of the 2010s due to adverse effects.
This crossing of curves is also linked to the progression of vasectomies. This is difficult to explain, the authors recognizing that “sociological studies” would be necessary. “The reduction in the burden of the practice may have led men to resort more to vasectomy,” says demographer Mireille Le Guen, a specialist in contraception issues. Most vasectomies are done during a daytime visit to the hospital, whereas a few years ago, a significant number of patients had to spend the night there, often under general anesthesia.
“Mental load” of contraception
But Mireille Le Guen remains cautious about reading an embryonic trend. “There is a possibility that we are moving away from a marginal practice, but let’s keep in mind that this still concerns very few men,” notes the demographer. Indeed, although vasectomies are on the rise, they are starting so low that their frequency remains low: around 0.15% of the men concerned (adults under 70 years old according to the study) made this choice in 2022.